Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More new and old stuff

If you live in a big city, you've seen graffiti tags. The overwhelming majority are ugly, boring and derivative; some small proportion are colorful and attractive. You see the stuff every day, and you probably describe it in terms no more precise or imaginative than I've just used.

But have you ever stopped to ask yourself what these tags really look like? Donald Westlake did, in an aside near the beginning of Get Real. The passage is yet one more example of the good things that can happen when an alert, experienced mind considers features of modern life from a period usually thought of as later than its own:
"Ah. The right third of the building, at street level, was a gray metal overhead garage door, graffiti-smeared in a language that hadn't been seen on Earth since the glory days of the Maya."
I also read a story this weekend that muses upon the declining power of the mainstream media and the ability of one person to blow a non-event into a news story of worldwide proportions. John Buchan published the story in 1928.

© Peter Rozovsky 2009

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4 Comments:

Blogger R. T. said...

I look forward to hearing you comment further on the Buchan collection. Although I received a copy of the book several weeks ago, I have been too busy with other matters to give it much attention. Am I missing out on a "must read" experience?

July 21, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I don't know if it's a must-read experience, but there's something of interest in each story I've read, and the introduction is worth reading as well.

The story that I mentioned in this post, for example, is related entirely as the account of one club member to another, which makes for a flat narration in this case even if the subject is of interest. It almost seems more a sketch for a story than a finished tale. Or maybe the men were not club members, but you'll recognize the set-up: Two chaps talking, and one says: "That reminds me of the strange tale of ... "

July 21, 2009  
Blogger Brian said...

There was a graffiti passage in a David Corbett novel that I was trying to find earlier this morning but couldn't locate it. I'll keep trying though.

The character was in a jail cell or interrogation room and was looking at the markings on the walls and the table and was saying how it was its own language and was maintaining its own dialogue if you knew the language.

As an aside -- I also wrote a lengthy response to the Sci-Fi & Crime post this morning but the computer ate it and I got pissed so I walked away.

July 26, 2009  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Brian, I haven't read David Corbett, but I have read passages where characters being interrogated act as archaeologists of a kind, deciphering and making stories of interrogation-room graffiti.

I hate when computers swallow posts, That's why I sometimes type long replies to long comments as e-mail so I can save them periodically.

In re sci-fi and crime, I looked today for a couple of the books that had come up in the recent discussions here, but found none. I still have two hours before the bookstores close, though. And thanks again for bringing Craig McDonald into the cell-phone discussion. He shed much thought-provoking light on the problem.

July 26, 2009  

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